47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Sergio Leone, Italy/Spain, 1969, 180 minutes
$200,000 of stolen army gold has been hidden by an army deserter going under the name of Bill Carson.
The Good - Clint Eastwood is the implacably cool "man with no name" who knows in which grave the gold is buried.
The Ugly - Eli Wallach, knows the cemetery holding said grave.
The Bad - Lee van Cleef, presenting a masterclass in villany, knows neither detail; but has the necessary powers of persuasion to find out.
Against the backdrop of the Civil War, a Union PoW camp modeled on a Nazi Konzentration Lager, and battlefields drawn from the World War I trenches, the three men make and break a succession of uneasy alliances, until, inevitably they square off for a duel to the death...
Where does one start? Ennio Morricone's superlative score, with his title theme one of the best known, best loved and best film pieces full stop? The fusion of sound and image as Van Cleef's Angel Eyes Setenza emerges out of the desert or as Wallach's Tuco circles round the massive military cemetery? The best use of montage outwith Eisenstein as the three men embark on their ritual corrida? The endlessly quotable dialogue? There's almost too much as it is...
Yet the new material fits in perfectly, rounding out previous narrative ellipses and making all the clearer Leone's twin goals of exploring the meanings of the good, bad and ugly labels and exposing the futility of war. Consider a sequence in which the Bad encounters a Union field hospital: living his life by a code of always keeping his word whilst being concerned solely with number one, he simply cannot understand why "so many men" would give their lives for some abstracted, meaningless, collective cause.
Review by Miichel Gentil
Written for EUFS Programme Autumn 2004
One of the greatest spaghetti westerns, Leone's indisputable masterpiece is a tour de force of many of his own particular themes which fundamentally changed the face of the western. The entire raw range of his cinematic tropes and filmic style can be seen in The Good... - the extreme close-ups, deep focus, larger-than-life characterization, trendy 60s crosscutting, comical irony, the primeval setting and conflicts, and of course Clint, the überbountyhunter
The film is, as the title suggests, about three bounty hunters, each with their respective moniker, although Clint the Good seems hardly any better than the Bad. The three become embroiled in a hunt to find $200,000 in gold. All this is set against the backdrop of the American Civil War.
There is much to cherish in The Good..., including all the performances, Morricone's superlative score, and Leone's outstanding direction, a vindication of the auteur theory if ever them was one. As with so many 'scope films, it really should be seen in the cinema, but especially so in the case of this film, where so often television or video's hapless panning and scanning just can't cope with Leone's precise framing, notable in the final conflict between the three protagonists. Classic.
Review by Mark Radice
Taken from EUFS Programme 1994-95